Vol. 5, No. 9
Since You Asked
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Names may be included at the discretion of the Editor unless querists request their names be withheld. Please check our Archive for the answer to your question before submitting it; there are over 1,000 articles in the Archive addressing numerous biblical topics. Submit a Question to GGO.
Your words mentioned, the cross is not in the bible. Neither is a triune God, neither is instructions for dividing the Church into 38,000 different denominations...each claiming to have the truth. Actually, no where in the Bible does it say the Bible is supposed to be our sole authority. In fact...it could not say that because when the books were written they were not compiled. We all know who compiled them...that pagan Catholic Church you left. So, the next time you open your Bible and refer the New Testament books...remember it was a pope and the Catholic church in the late 300's that gave you that book...and you in turn spit in her face. Actually, the Bible you use is without several books. Luther and other ex-Catholics took them out. One of their arguments, they were never in Hebrew. You should know by now, the findings in the Dead Sea scrolls just 50 or so years ago...proved this argument was without merit. ... their proposition about the Bible being the only source of the faith is proven wrong. The Bible in fact say the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth, not some future compilation of writting. It says the oral and written tradition is good. Good tradition is good and bad tradition is bad. Jesus never even said to write anything down, but he did say go out and teach. I want you back in the Catholic Church. Jesus wants you back? ~ Jeff Vaughan
Frequently, critics of our carefully prepared articles employ the sawed-off shotgun approach in their attempt to resist biblical truths represented in the pages of Gospel Gazette Online. They blast us with a critical barrage of extensive, rambling, unsubstantiated vagaries. Their arguments, hardly reasoned points, are difficult to extrapolate from their missives for any attempt at responding. The remarkable quotation above was excerpted from a post peppered with references to "birth control" and other sidebars.
The baseless assertion that the "cross" does not appear in the Bible is typical and representative of the biblical ignorance (i.e., uninformed) amply demonstrated in the criticism sampled above. The word "cross" appears 28 times in the Bible (Matthew 10:38; 16:24; 27:32, 40, 42; Mark 8:34; 10:21; 15:21, 30, 32; Luke 9:23; 14:27; 23:26; John 19:17, 19, 25, 31; 1 Corinthians 1:17-18; Galatians 5:11; 6:12, 14; Ephesians 2:16; Philippians 2:8; 3:18; Colossians 1:20; 2:14; Hebrews 12:2). Anyone who had ever read the Bible casually would know the cross is in the Bible. Such religious ignorance on obvious matters is hardly an authoritative position from which to offer any biblical criticism.
While it is true that the word "triune" does not appear in the Bible, that there are three persons in the Godhead, which is what our word "triune" means, is taught throughout the Bible. Some passages mention all three persons of the Godhead in one stroke of the inspired pen. "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:18).
It is true that God does not want so-called Christianity divided into thousands or even a couple of doctrinally contradictory groups (1 Corinthians 1:10-13). The fault lies not with God, of course, but with mankind who refuses to be directed by God, through his Word, the Bible. If everyone simply allowed the Bible to guide them, instead of following the whims of men (e.g., preachers, popes, etc.) and councils of men and women (e.g., apostles, conventions, etc.), their would be religious unity instead of the chaos that now exists (of which the Catholic Church is a primary participant).
The epistles or letters that comprise what we call the Bible were authoritative from the time they were initially penned. The Old Testament was compiled many hundreds of years before the Catholic Church or the pope came into existence; the Old Testament books were compiled before the first century and even the ministry of Jesus Christ. The New Testament epistles were circulated initially among the churches and were compiled around the close of the first century. That later councils of men and popes in the Catholic Church argued about which writings should be included and which should be excluded is immaterial. "And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea" (Colossians 4:16). God did not choose, through his providence, to have the Laodicean epistle preserved, though he did choose to have the Colossian epistle preserved, which mentions the Laodicean epistle. Clearly, the original recipients of the inspired epistles were to regard them highly and circulate them among the churches.
Contrary to the critical claim, the Bible (through the various epistles that comprise it) does claim to be the sole authority of God. "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you" (Deuteronomy 4:2). "Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar" (Proverbs 30:6). "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:6-9). "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3). "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book" (Revelation 22:18-19).
The supposed missing books that Catholics have in their Bible (which is immaterial anyway since to Catholicism the Bible is a dead letter) and that do not appear in other Bibles are writings that failed the tests of canonicity. They are apocryphal or pseudepigraphal, that is spurious or doubtful in authenticity or falsely ascribed to an inspired writer. Apocryphal and pseudepigraphal books contain factual errors that betray them as uninspired or contradict biblical books with which there is no doubt that they are inspired. However, since the Catholic position and that of the criticism above that the Bible is not authoritative, why be concerned over which books are in or not in the Bible?
The vague reference to the Dead Sea Scrolls does not support any contention represented in the criticism, and certainly not the inclusion of apocryphal or pseudepigraphal books in the biblical canon. No one denies that the apocryphal and pseudepigraphal books are old, just that they are inspired. Many thousands of old documents that do not pertain to religion at all (e.g., invoices, legal documents) have been unearthed through archaeology; being an antique document alone does not qualify something to be considered biblical. The Dead Sea Scrolls confirm rather than deny or alter the current canonicity of the Bible.
The biblical reference that the church is the pillar and ground of the truth does not pertain to origin of authority but to the responsibility of the church to propagate God's truth, revealed to mankind in the Bible (1 Timothy 3:15). Jesus alone has all authority in heaven and in earth (Matthew 28:18). The responsibility of mankind (and collectively, the church) today is to proclaim God's doctrine to the world, not make doctrine to displace the doctrine of God. "To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Ephesians 3:10-11).
Human tradition cannot compare with divine instruction; human tradition condemns. "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9). "O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" (Jeremiah 10:23).
The assertion that Jesus did not tell anyone to write anything down is erroneous as well. First, Jesus delegated authority to his apostles (Matthew 16:19; 18:18), who wrote (e.g., Matthew, John, Peter). Second, 16 times in the Book of Revelation, Jesus instructed the apostle John to "write" (Revelation 1:1, 19; 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 12, 14; 10:4; 14:13; 19:9; 21:5).
Incidentally, it is no wonder the Catholic Church has so little regard for the Bible, since the Bible identifies and condemns it. "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving" (1 Timothy 4:1-4). "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God" (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). If not anticipating Catholic doctrine and the Catholic pope specifically, these verses apply to the Catholic Church and its pope.
Contrary to what was argued in the post, it would be easier to be a Catholic than to be a New Testament Christian. In truth, the Catholic Church is too young to be the church of the Bible, coming into existence fully with its first universally recognized Catholic pope (a word and doctrine absent from the Bible) about A.D. 605. I choose, rather, to be a New Testament Christian, a member of the church about which anyone can read in the Bible, the beginning of which one reads in Acts 2. The Lord and I earnestly desire all accountable souls decide to be Christians only, forsaking Catholicism and other manmade alternatives to pure Christianity as well as world religions.
I have a few questions regarding your article entitled "Were the apostles baptized in Acts Two?" If the apostles were not baptized on Pentecost how could they be members of the Lord's church? In the 5th paragraph of your answer you said "The apostles, the 120, the 500, and other disciples...comprised the initial church of Acts Two." I have always believed that the church (the kingdom) began on Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the apostles. I believe that is what Jesus was referring to in MARK 9:1. When was the church established? I understand that the baptism of John was for the remission of sins, MARK 1:4. Paul said we are baptized into Christ, GALATIANS 3:27; also into His death, ROMANS 6:3. "For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body...", 1 CORINTHIANS 12:13. Were the ones who were baptized in John's baptism: Baptized into Christ? Baptized into His death? (How could they be baptized into His death before He died?) Placed in the church (body)? Given the gift of the Holy Spirit, ACTS 2:38? Made Christians? In ACTS 19:1-7, why were those who received John's baptism baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus by apostle Paul? ~ Richard Parsons, Ellenboro WV
First, any answer to this question, even if it is wrong, is relatively moot, since every accountable person now living and every accountable person who may yet live on earth in the future is amenable to the Great Commission and must be baptized for the remission of sins (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38). It is not important to me that anyone be convinced one way or the other regarding this specific question, because this question neither affects our salvation nor the faithful practice of our Christianity.
Second, nowhere does the Bible state that the apostles were recipients of the baptism of the Great Commission. It is arguable whether the Bible implies from which we are to infer that the apostles were the recipients of the Great Commission baptism. Your question and my response is a part of that cordial debating the question, which suggests a degree of uncertainty about it.
Third, I concur that the "the church (the kingdom) began on Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the apostles" in fulfillment of Mark 9:1, among other prophecies. Yes, the church began at that point and everyone still living who had undergone the preparation for the establishment of the church or kingdom through the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ became the charter members of the church or kingdom. Later in Acts 2, about 3,000 souls were added by the Lord as a result of their baptism for the remission of sins.
Fourth, everyone who heartily embraced through obedience the teachings of the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ, when those teachings were valid, fulfilled the requirements of God for their salvation, dependent upon and effective upon the sacrifice of Christ and the subsequent establishment of his church. Likewise, the faithful who lived under Patriarchy and Judaism are the recipients of the blessings of Christ's sacrifice and the establishment of his church or kingdom, though they were not baptized into the death of Jesus Christ.
The institution we commonly call the church is also known biblically by the terms kingdom, body, house of God, etc. It seems that when we use the term church, we often forget the other descriptors and their significance respecting the church. For instance, though the kingdom, which is the church, began in Acts 2, the kingdom encompasses more than obedient souls since the birthday of the church in Acts 2. The faithful under Patriarchy and Judaism are in this kingdom, too; therefore, the faithful who lived under Patriarchy and Judaism (when those systems were valid) are in the church, too.
Jesus used the words church and kingdom interchangeably (Matthew 16:18-19). Therefore, when Jesus referred to "the kingdom of heaven," which was about to be established, he was talking about the church. Yet, Old Testament worthies who lived under Patriarchy will participate in "the kingdom of heaven" with Christians. "And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 8:11). "There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God" (Luke 13:28-29). Mark, like Luke, more often attributes the phrase "the kingdom of God" to Jesus, also referring to the church, for instance when Jesus will commune with us in the Lord's Supper (Mark 14:25; Luke 22:16).
The blood of Jesus Christ by which redemption is procured for the church or kingdom (Ephesians 1:7; Acts 20:28) proceeds forward and backward to save the faithful who obeyed God under Patriarchy, Judaism and Christianity. "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance" (Hebrews 9:14-15).
Fifth, no, 'the ones who were baptized in John's baptism were no more baptized into either Christ or his death' than anyone who lived under Patriarchy or Judaism, who nevertheless are saved by the blood of Christ and members of the kingdom (church). Yes, those baptized under John's baptism were 'placed in the church (body),' which is the kingdom, howbeit under the same circumstances under which the faithful through Patriarchy and Judaism were placed in the kingdom or the church, based on their obedience to the divine terms then applicable and the death of Jesus Christ with the subsequent establishment of the church or kingdom. Yes, those who were baptized by John's baptism were 'given the gift of the Holy Spirit, ACTS 2:38,' as long as we understand that the gift of the Holy Spirit refers to the miraculous demonstrations operative in the first century that were given to classes of humanity comprised of the Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles. (Faithful brethren hold to three distinct views respecting the definition of the "gift of the Holy Ghost" in Acts 2:38; I am confident it refers to miracles.) Upon the establishment of the kingdom or church, Abel, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, for instance, became members of this kingdom as well as the 3,000 of Acts 2. If it is biblically correct to acknowledge that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are members of Christ's kingdom, which is the church, and therefore, technically correct to refer to them as Christians, likewise, it would be equally appropriate to say the same regarding the faithful who submitted to the baptism of John the Baptist when that baptism was valid.
Sixth, particular care was exercised in Scripture in Acts 19:1-7 to note that disciples who lately had been baptized in the baptism of John the Baptist (when it was no longer valid, having been replaced with the baptism of the Great Commission), were re-immersed in the baptism of the Great Commission. Yet, a few verses previously one finds Apollos (18:24-26) who only knows the baptism of John (into which obviously he had been baptized). Aquila and Priscilla informed Apollos of the Great Commission baptism, but there is no indication that Apollos was required to be re-immersed in the baptism of the Great Commission. The logical explanation why Apollos was not re-immersed whereas those he had recently taught were re-immersed has to do with when Apollos versus the 12 men of Acts 19 were respectively baptized in John's baptism. Apollos must have been baptized in John's baptism when it was still valid, before the beginning of the church, but the 12 were mistakenly (based on Apollos' lack of information) baptized in John's baptism after it had been replaced with the Great Commission baptism.
Finally, I find it rewarding to examine religious questions for which I must study to obtain biblical answers. This particular exercise emphasizes the little addressed benefit of the kingdom to those who only saw it through the eyes of the prophets (e.g., Abel, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc.).
How do you explain the statement that there was 400 years of silence between the prophet Malachi and the coming of Christ? ~ Don Puryear
After the Israelites returned from Babylonian captivity, had rebuilt Jerusalem and the Temple, their zeal toward God waned. The observance of Judaism became to them a burdensome chore. Though they went through the outward exercise of their religion marginally, their lackluster mindset for worshipping God was evident by the substandard animal sacrifices they offered. Instead of offering God unblemished animals as the Law required, Jews of Malachi's day offered animals that were unsatisfactory for farming and otherwise equivalent to refuse. This mentality and activity is a primary object of the Book of Malachi. The Jews of Malachi's day were essentially paying fire insurance, hedging against eternal hellfire, but unwilling to invest more in their religion than the minimum with which they thought they might squeak by with God. (That sounds remarkably like modern man and, unfortunately like many members of the Lord's church.) It was under these circumstances that God ceased sending revelation from heaven to mankind, until immediately before the Incarnation of Christ. Malachi was written about 400 years before the events chronicled in the Gospel records.
With Malachi who lived to the time of Nehemiah, the Old Testament prophecy ceased, and Israel was left to himself four hundred years, to digest during this period of expectation the rich substance of that revelation, and to prepare the birth-place for the approaching redemption. (Schaff)
The time period between the writing of the last book of the Old Testament (Mal.) and the beginning of revelatory activity by God through the ministries of John the Baptist and our Lord Jesus Christ, approx. 400 to 4 B.C. (Karleen)
After Malachi came 400 long years of silence. But when the time was right, heaven would burst forth in song at the arrival of the Messiah. (Nelson's)
Karleen, Paul S. "Intertestamental Period." The Handbook to Bible Study. CD-ROM. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.
Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary. CD-ROM. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1986.
Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church. CD-ROM. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos, 1997.